Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Scrima the Key Master


Waukesha Freeman 12/19/2013 Page A6 Opinion

Scrima the Key Master
Mayor giving away too many keys to wrong people 

On the agenda for Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting, Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima handed out 13 keys to the city. Judging from the number that were handed out, some local hardware store had a very merry retail Christmas season.

CaptureScrima handed out so many keys to the city in the last three years it was as if he was trying out to be the Key Master in a “Ghostbusters” reunion. By the mayor’s own count, he has handed out 36 keys in his time in office. He must have been inspired by Lloyd Dobler in “Say Anything,” not wanting to leave any keys in the bag.

After a while that many keys tends to diminish their significance, which is too bad because some of the recipients truly deserve the honor. We should wonder why so many keys go to so many recipients.

We don’t have to wonder about one key. In addition to being a business owner downtown, Kerry Mackay has been a loyal Scrima ally, even through the dissolution of the Business Improvement District.

It isn’t too hard to imagine the reaction of some of Mackay’s fellow business owners who may be suffering when the streets are closed. It would also be interesting to ask some of the residents and property owners downtown what they think. Instead of a key to the city, they would like the barricades on Main Street removed.

Police Chief Russell Jack was also honored Tuesday night. It was rather surprising since Jack is likely to be serving awhile. Can we wait until a civil servant retires before we honor him?

This is not to say the Police Department in our city doesn’t do important work. One glance at the police report elsewhere in this newspaper tells a tale of dedicated public servants dealing with sometimes tense situations.

However, let’s also remember there have been a few bumps in Jack’s tenure. The most embarrassing episode was probably the time the department was accused of using excessive force to “take down” a worried father at his daughter’s accident scene. As reported by my fellow columnist Darryl Enriquez, the video of the incident was passed around the department for “training.” When it became evidence, the video was magically erased.

Jack was also instrumental in preventing the city of Waukesha from consolidating its dispatch operation with the county. He had his staff manufacture a crowd against the idea and then personally attacked the members of the Common Council who supported it.

Scrima might have enjoyed Jack’s show but the taxpayers were ill-served.

But the worst offense of the evening came when Scrima handed a key to Chris Becker and the Waukesha YMCA. Instead of accepting such an honor, Becker owes the city an apology.

It was Becker and the YMCA who promised the city a housing development when they tore down a historic gas station.

The promised development was enough to thwart preservation efforts.

The YMCA tore down the gas station and put up a parking lot. No development. Just some asphalt, some grass, and an ironic sign welcoming people to “historic” downtown.

It’s bad enough that this city does not have a proper sense of its own history. Do we have to honor someone who was responsible for tearing our history down?

Becker’s presence Tuesday night cheapened the award and dishonored the more deserving recipients.

At times during Tuesday night’s presentation Scrima was a little choked up. The rest of us found some of the honors handed out just a little hard to swallow.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Scrima still had not pulled nomination papers from the clerk’s office. He has until Dec. 27 to announce whether he is running for re-election.

Regardless, there are at least two solid candidates running to replace him. Perhaps Scrima’s successor will be more judicious in who is honored by the city, and how many.


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